TODAY   |  October 01, 2013

Sandra Bullock: Filming ‘Gravity’ an ‘unnatural experience’

The actress tells TODAY’s Matt Lauer about the unusual challenges of making her new  movie “Gravity,” a film many critics call groundbreaking. She says that spending most of the film as the only character and having a camera in her face for most of the shooting changed her approach.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> on to a movie that has a lot of people talking. the new thriller is called gravity. sandra bullock plays an astronaut stranded in space. some are already calling this a game changer. take a look.

>>> i'm detached.

>> grab ahold.

>>> hey, sandra, welcome back.

>> thank you.

>> this is not my first movie.

>> really?

>> i went to the screening yesterday and i sat there thinking how did they do this.

>> yeah.

>> you were weightless through the entire movie, basically. you're floating. there are objects floating not just past you -- i can understand how the computer could do that but then they're bumping into you and then spinning -- how did they do this?

>> many, many different ways. we had the light box . we had hanging from wire riggs. we had a tank where you were submerged about 20 feet.

>> this light box , nine by nine feet. you spent huge amounts of time in there. talk about how it works.

>> you are clamped in from the waste down. there were led lights all around you. there was a whole camera on an arm that used to make the cars for detroit that would come hurling at you and you in slow motion did the upper half of your body.

>> was this ridiculously time consuming to shoot?

>> yes and no. ridiculously time consuming in the best way in that you have to adhere to all the things they needed you to do. start in a certain place and end in a certain place so it would cut together.

>> several things jumped out at me. first of all, you're in every frame of this movie basically but not only are you in it but often times you're alone. you're acting opposite nothing and the camera is right there on your face. how tough was that?

>> it kind of reminds me of being at home, you know.

>> no one to talk to.

>> at home, just a camera, act out things. you know, it was -- it was lonely but every time i say that i say it was the perfect set up for feeling lonely, feeling lost. feeling frustrated because it was such an unnatural experience. you had nothing you were used to. in the end once you started using it instead of fighting it all the time it made it what it was.

>> also with your breathing. can we talk about your breathing in this movie. give me a sample.

>> no, because i prefer not to pass out. it was a series of hyperventilation moments because you had to get to a certain level and because we shot a lot of things out of sequence i would start listening back to what we shot before and get the breath to that place so it was authentic.

>> see i closed my eyes a couple of times in the theater and i kept imagining we were in a lamase class.

>> i did give birth twice.

>> twice during the movie?

>> yes.

>> congratulations.

>> thank you.

>> oh, you took off the glasses. this is big.

>> by the way, the 3-d glasses were fantastic. i don't want to sound lecherous here.

>> that's hard for you. try it.

>> because you know me. you are in incredible shape in this movie.

>> that's all cgi. it is.

>> i don't think so.

>> yeah.

>> i don't think so. you must have worked out like crazy. we did. it was definitely a group effort. two great australian trainers that had the system down. they were dancers and they knew what i needed to do to get in shape so i wouldn't get hurt so i could do the wire work and everything they needed me to do. so i wanted her to look a certain way. it was just every day. but nice job to have.

>> not bad and just explain to me why this was so scary for you. the quote that's going around here is it was scary for you on every level to shoot this, why?

>> because i had no idea how to do it.

>> after all the movies you made.

>> no one in that room making this movie had any idea of what each day would be and if it would work. i had no one to help me that was a human being except when george was there.

>> george clooney . i don't know if we mentioned that yet.

>> george clooney and even then they were separated a lot and only had each others voices. it took you out of your comfort zone .

>> i don't think you have to be a fan of outer space and space exploration to love this movie. as a kid i remember being at summer camp and watching man land on the moon, 1969 . you were.

>> 4.

>> i was 12. when the apollo missions would go my dad had a contact at nasa and he would get me the medals for all the missions.

>> you had a good dad. are they gold?

>> they're gold but don't walk away with them. this was right up my alley.

>> these are amazing. it plays into these fantasies we've all had about space. not the future but futuristic things that are completely unfamiliar and the director puts such an emotional story to it. so it's not just sci-fi. it is a sci-fi that just has a really strong emotional story to it.

>> speaking of emotional stories, i watched you the other day, congratulations you were immortalized in the hollywood walk of fame . was it a thrill?

>> it was a thrill because my son was there. i always wave these things off and i go it's no big deal and you try not to make a lot out of it but having him there made -- he's made everything sweet.

>> but it surprised me because you have been very private. you don't put him in situations where there's going to be a lot of cameras and there was a situation where there was going to be a thousand cameras.

>> it was a really conscious decision. we had one made for him at home. whoen he came home he did his own hand and footprint and wrote his name and we're going to put it at the front of the house. this is something that later on when he hates me and i'm an embarrassment i'll say let me show you what we did when you were younger and how much you liked me at that time. he was okay with being there.

>> it seemed to me a few years ago you went into a vault. after a tough time in your life. are you coming out of that?

>> oh, totally.

>> a little better to talk about things. he looks adorable.

>> he is. he's delicious.

>> and this movie grabbed me by the throat. you're fantastic. good to see you as always.